Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 11:14 PM GMT on February 02, 2012
"Afternoon Thoughts" (Updated 2/2)
The field of sciences often poses several ethical questions and conflictions. Instead of devouring these conceptions on paper, it may be of different note to look at another ethical question: Is it better to not know why some things happen? There are plenty of fields in all sciences that remain unclear ranging from the conceptual idea of what is the human conscience to our understanding of the cosmological timeline. While science places an emphasis on trying to understand such topics, one has to wonder if it is better not knowing the answer. Certainly most could argue that a better understanding in any field should lead to a myriad of solutions to increase the sustainability of the human race, but what if the answer is something we are better off not knowing. Perhaps lets focus on an example: is life unique to planet Earth? Either answer to this question can lead into somewhat unwanted responses. If we do find other sources of life (intelligent life), does this represent mass pandemonium in modern society? But what if we find out we are all alone in the cosmos... Does this answer find itself focused on the conceptual idea that we are indeed alone?
The sciences risk pushing this ethical boundary in every discovery, and while every new scientific document enhances our understanding, perhaps the answer is better off a mystery. Science will never have the answer to every problem and maybe that is for the better.
"Current Surface Plot"
(Courtesy of HPC)
(Courtesy of Wunderground)
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Forecast Discussion"(Updated 2/2)
Very boring seven day period for all of the Northeast under a zonal Pacific flow with few embedded shortwaves. This discussion will be quick and to the point.
Friday- A weak disturbance will approach western New York with widespread strato-cumulus across much of the Northeast north of Pennsylvania. South of the New York southern tier sunshine will prevail with temperatures reaching into the upper 40s as far north as the Pennsylvania turnpike. The low cloud deck and excess moisture around 10,000ft aloft will allow for the development of flurries and sprinkles mainly across New York State and northern New England. Highs in this region will be around 5F above normal. Sunshine may also peak out across southern and eastern New England. By Friday night light lake effect snow activity across New York will begin to dwindle with increase drier air in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Any snow accumulation remain at an inch or less.
Saturday- Another weak disturbance approaches the Northeast with more widespread clouds particularily later in the day. Highs will be nearly 5-10F above normal for all locations with sunshine in the morning. Most snow shower activity with the disturbance will focus across northern New England and across New York. Snow accumulation will remain below 2in for all locations. Conditions will remain dry outside those listed regions.
Sunday/Monday- Warmer temperatures will enter much of the Northeast with highs nearing 10F above normal with partly cloudy skies for all areas.
Tuesday- A cold front will approach the region, but weak dynamics will prevent any QPF. A few lake effect snow showers are possible across typical snow belts, but accumulations will remain in the nuisance category. Highs will be about 5F above normal for all locations.
Wednesday-Friday- Sunshine with warmer than normal temperatures will continue to be the theme with no areas of weather hazards or interests. Temperatures will range from the lower 30s over northern Maine to low 50s near Washington DC for highs. Lows will be seasonal to slightly above.
Post Friday- Guidance has been hinting at a cold shot towards the weekend, but even this colder air will only put things likely at 'average.' No significant threats of snow look likely over this seven day period outside a few flurries and snow showers across the snow belts. QPF will remain below .1in for most all locations. A few models have hinted at a coastal storm towards Sunday scraping some locations, but for now I am not overly enthusiastic given the setup.
(Courtesy of Penn State Meteo.)
"Current Water Vapor Loop"
(Courtesy of Penn State Meteo.)
"Lake Effect Snow Conditions" (Updated 2/2)
Very few chances of lake effect exist in the next seven days as high pressure dominates the daily weather forecast. A weak disturbance will approach northern New York State on Friday and will assist in the development of a few snow showers across northern New England. Model QPF is generally less than .03in so this will not be a big deal. A bit of Ontario-enhancement will allow for 1-2in snow totals Friday evening across the Tug Hill Plateau into northern Vermont throughout the western facing Greens. Another weak disturbance will approach western New York State in the Saturday/Sunday time period with a bit of lake enhancement. High shear values aloft and dry air will prevent any organized lake effect activity from forming, but a few streamers and showers are possibly mainly across the Tug Hill Plateau with a wind direction at 330 degrees. Any accumulation will remain below 3in. GFS indicates a bit of lake effect across the Finger Lakes given the northerly flow on Sunday, but any accumulation will remain below 1-2in favoring towns such as Dryden and Cortland. Warm air advection will cutoff any activity by late Sunday night as H85s begin to rise above 0C. A cold front will move through the region Tuesday with winds shifting to a north-northwesterly flow. H85s will drop sub -10C and will allow for a bit of instability to develop. This period has the highest threat of lake effect activity. But given the unfavorable direction, most organized streamers will not develop. Instead a more widespread multi-streamer event is likely across central New York with light to moderate amounts. Given the northerly flow, most lake effect snow activity will remain north of Pennsylvania outside Crawford, Erie, and Warren counties. Little to no lake effect is likely over the Laurel Highlands or western Maryland over the next 7 days. The best location will be across the Tug Hill Plateau and northern Vermont (higher elevations towards Mt. Mansfield) where 7-day totals of 4-8in are possible.
"Current Great Lakes Water Temperatures"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Current River Ice Reports and Ski Conditions" (Updated 2/2)
Given temperatures nearly 20F above normal over the last few days, much of the Northeast has little to no sign of winter outside the higher elevations in northern New England. Ice reports are few and far between with hardly any reports for mainstem rivers and even lakes. South of the New York freeway and the Massachusetts turnpike thin to no ice exists on most all waterways. This has definitely hurt the ice fishing industry given the frequent warmups preventing any large freezes. In fact cold spells have become the rarity and not thaws this winter. Outside locations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont the ice remains to thin for any activity to take place. This will heighten the dangers over the next week for anyone near waterways; please use caution and remember to always check the thickness.
The ski and snowboard industry has also been hit hard this winter with continued cancellations each weekend plaguing many resorts including those up through Stowe and Killington. Frequent rainfall as far north as the Canadian border has prevented a powdery snow pack across the northern New England resorts. Farther south there has been a complete lack of natural snow even across the snow belts into the Laurel Highlands and Garret County, Maryland where Wisp, Seven Springs, etc. have had little to no natural snow over the last seven days. The outlook for the next week will continue the poor conditions with a zonal flow and general lack of precipitation. Even the upslope/lake effect machine will remain quiet instead of aiding the snowbelt resorts. The best conditions over the next week will be across northern Vermont where several weak disturbances will allow the upslope effect to squeeze out a probable 3-5in over the seven day period. Still though for early February odds, this is very poor.
-Link to official reports page from NWS... Link.
-Link to local ski resort snow conditions... Link.
"Current Northeast Snow Depth and Northeast Wind chills"
(Courtesy of Wunderground)
"Long Term Outlook" (Updated 2/2)
I have just posted my February forecast below. The next two week period looks to feature well above normal temperatures with well below normal precipitation; therefore the likelihood of snowfall is below climatological averages. The MJO will continue to rotate through phases 6-8 over the next two weeks with strong forcing. Composites indicate a mild pattern from this regime over the Northeast. The arctic oscillation is actually anomalously low (near the record low values of 2010) which is quite coincidental given the record high values back in December. But the other teleconnections are not in favor to send this arctic air across North America especially given the swirling Alaskan Vortex. Much of this cold air has been focused across Europe into parts of Siberia. Model prognostics indicate a dominate 1060hPa anticyclone (models will verify too high for pressure) over Siberia. Arctic air will flood this region of the world over the next two weeks, while North America is sitting under a zonal Pacific regime. Very few perturbations in the jet will characterize a very dry period over the next two weeks. This is supported by recent global model runs indicating less than .4in for most of the Northeast over a 16 day period.
Any potential for snow will remain slim. A few ensemble runs have noted the February 10-12 period as of particular interest, but the placement of the polar and subtropical jet do not appear favorable. While there will be occasional cold fronts with 1-2 day periods of cooler weather, the overall pattern is mild with many days running 5-10F above normal. I cannot rule out an unexpected snow threat, but it is likely this will appear at the last minute on guidance if it should occur. Given the end of the Nina flow, chaos has consumed most model guidance especially post 3 days. Therefore any model output should be taken with a grain of salt. If one can get past operational and ensemble model output, the overall pattern is similar to that of much of this winter.
"Current NAO and PNA Predictions"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Anchorage, Alaska Tower Cam"
*Back due to popular demand!
"Monthly Temperature/Precipitation Outlook"(February)(Updated 2/2)
Using the MJO teleconnection and I rollover technique, my February forecast will be a continuation of the mild theme of the past nearly 12 months. Current ECMWF ensemble and GEFS guidance suggests the monsoonal patterns in the Indian Ocean will maintain MJO phases 5-8. Looking at quick composites of these phases and their associated global surface temperature anomalies, there is a clear indication of positive numbers over much of North America, particularily across the United States. While many forecasters have pointed at other indices including the -AO, the general Pacific and Atlantic regimes continue to lock up the cold on the other portions of the globe. This will likely continue through much of February. As we enter the end of the month, the MJO phase composites become a bit more favorable towards phases 1+. This may allow a bit of colder air to bleed south out of Canada. Current CFS and ECMWF weeklies indicate anomalous warmth across much of the eastern United States. This is also supported by several operational model runs. Given the La Nina-lag effects, February will likely be a very mild month for many climatological reporting stations.
Temperatures- Given the La Nina rollover effects, mild Pacific air will continue to flood much of the lower 48. I am predicting anomalies of (+)3.0-(+)3.5F for most all climatological reporting stations. This fits the regime of the past several winter months also.
Precipitation- The general zonal flow will inhibit most strong cyclogenesis and middle latitude cyclone development for at least the first half of the month. Precipitation looks to average at or below normal for most all climatological reporting stations. Snowfall is a difficult variable to predict given any possible outlier that can easily skew totals. None the less I will use probabilities for this forecast... higher likelihood of below normal snowfall
"Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks from Climate Prediction Center for next 30 days"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler"
(Courtesy of WGAL)
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"10mi northeast of Harrisburg 2011-2012 winter statistics"
Monthly Total (October)- 5.5in
Monthly Total (November)- 0.0in
Monthly Total (December)- 0.4in
Monthly Total- (January)- 5.2in
Seasonal Total- 11.1in
Winter Weather Advisories- 2
Winter Storm Warnings- 1
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 1
Winter Storm Watches- 1
Lowest High Temperature- 29F
Lowest Low Temperature- 10F
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0
(Snow Storms Stats)
Historic October Nor'easter - October 29 - 5.5in of wet snow
322 Lake Effect Snow Band - December 17 - 0.3in of wet snow
Weak Clipper - December 29 - 0.1in of snow
322 Lake Effect Snow Band - January 18 - 0.2in of snow
Southwest Flow Event - January 21 - 5.0in of dry snow
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